Tasting Notes: Lindsay Porter of The Common is competing for Top Chef Canada


Plus, the Cocktails & Jerk Festival brings more heat to Old Strathcona this weekend.

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Chef Lindsay Porter hasn’t had much time to prepare for her appearance on the upcoming 10th season of Top Chef Canada.

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“It was pretty last minute,” says Porter, known for her south London restaurant Local as well as her most recent efforts at the Common. “I think it was less than two weeks before filming, so it was a bit of a last-minute, crazy scramble to try to get things ready at The Common.

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Porter is no stranger to cooking contests. The St. Albert-born chef has toured a number of other Food Network shows, including Guy’s Grocery Games, Fire Masters and Beat Bobby Flay; Along with her television appearances, she also picked up a bronze medal at the Gold Medal Plates in Edmonton in 2014. Still, Porter says her experience on Top Chef Canada is unlike any she’s ever had before.

“It was a very difficult experience,” admits Porter, who is back in Edmonton and working on a new fall menu for The Common. “There were a lot of surprises, but what surprised me the most is that whatever you think you can prepare for, it’s a completely different environment and a different dynamic for everything. Even if you think you are prepared and ready something will pop up and surprise you about yourself or the competition you are given these challenges and in all other circumstances i would be calm cool and collected but in this situation , we never know.

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It’s completely understandable when you’re in a room examined by renowned culinary experts such as David Zilber, former head of the fermentation lab at the three-star Michelin restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Mark McEwan, chef and owner of the McEwan Group, or rock-star restaurateur Janet Zuccarini. Fortunately, Porter had the support of his fellow chefs, who were chosen at their respective restaurants and businesses to fight on TV for the $100,000 cash and other prizes. You can watch Porter and his peers complete various challenges every Monday at 8 p.m. on the GlobalTV app or StackTV, starting September 26.

“They were all so amazing,” Porter says. “We actually set up our own group chat and were always messaging each other and sending pictures. It’s kind of nice to reminisce about those memories. The funny thing is that I was not stressed by the interviews and the TV part, I was mostly stressed by the other chefs. Then I met them and was able to hang out with them and that turned out to be the most relaxing part of the experience. They are such talented people and I’m grateful to have gotten to know them and proud to have been on the show with them.

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Festival with Caribbean flavors

When Dewayne Taylor launched Cocktails & Jerk in 2021, it was for a very specific reason.

“I wanted to create something that my friends and I would like,” he says, sitting on a bench and enjoying the late August sun at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park, where the second edition of the foodie event takes place on the Caribbean theme. organized this weekend. “Also, I wanted to connect not only the Caribbean, but also people outside of the Caribbean.

“Often it’s not necessarily that people don’t like a culture, it’s that they don’t feel invited. So I invite them.

Taylor, who came to Canada via a detour from Jamaica after attending post-secondary school in the United States, has had the idea percolating in his head since returning from a return trip years ago.

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“Most Jamaicans don’t visit the all-inclusive resorts there,” he says. “As a kid living in Jamaica, you really don’t understand the appeal to the rest of the world. So when I got home with my girlfriend she said we should check an all inclusive package. It had never crossed my mind, but it was awesome. You wake up and the curtains are blowing with the breeze, there’s the blue ocean, the chatter and laughter down there – everyone’s happy. Downstairs there is any cocktail you want and any type of Caribbean cuisine you can imagine. So, the cocktail, sitting on a beach, and the jerk chicken; this is where I put the two together.

Erick Rosende with Ultimate Bartending School presents a Caribbean cocktail with style and flowers at a preview for the Cocktail and Jerk Festival, which takes place September 3-4.  at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park.
Erick Rosende with Ultimate Bartending School presents a Caribbean cocktail with style and flowers at a preview for the Cocktail and Jerk Festival, which takes place September 3-4. at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Sure, there’s no beach at McIntyre Park, but Taylor points out that it’s comfortable, safe, and great for socializing. It’s also bigger than the pop-up park at Jasper Avenue and 107th Street where the festival was held last year, which somehow crammed in about 2,000 people, a number of performances, vendors of food and drink and vendors throughout the day. This year they have expanded to two days and are using the extra space for even more vendors as well as a kids area with a bouncy castle and face painting. Performers include Saint and the Full 100 Band, Caleb Hart, Trincan Steel Orchestra and Caribflaymz, as well as a number of DJs.

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The jerk and advertised alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails are an equally important part of the experience.

“There are only a few changes,” says Taylor. “Last year, I was introducing a cocktail and then having it complete the performance that followed. This time, instead of holding them back and releasing them every two hours, I’m just going to make them all available. But I’m going to always present them and say that “this performance is with this cocktail”.

Taylor is not a professional festival organizer. He’s an engineer, so the first iteration of Cocktails & Jerk involved a massive amount of work as he built a festival from the ground up. If there’s one thing he took away from this process, it’s immense gratitude for the number of people who heard about his vision.

“It was amazing,” he says. “They were just like, ‘Hey, I’m going to help you. I like your energy. I like what you are trying to do. So even on the days when I was tired and didn’t want to do any more, I told myself that I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I guess you could call these people volunteers, but to me they are angels.

Cocktails & Jerks

When: Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park, 8331 104 St.

Tickets: FREE ENTRANCE

[email protected]

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